Challenges to the Decentralized Web

Feb 05, 2021

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I’ve written about some of the pros of decentralization, but it’s also important to consider the cons.

The technology surrounding decentralization is still relatively new and has faced criticisms and media attacks throughout its short life. The actual work of building a decentralized web will take a while and encounter many more challenges along the way.

By talking about these difficulties, we’ll be able to anticipate roadblocks and issues, swiftly respond to criticisms, and build a more solid and effective decentralized web.

First, let’s quickly recap the advantages of decentralization online.

The advantages of a decentralized web

Perhaps the main advantage of a decentralized web will be true ownership of our personal data. We’ll gain real property rights over our information and digital real estate, allowing us to carry our data with us wherever we go online and escape the control of large corporations.

Other advantages include heightened privacy, transparency, and reliability of the data we interact with online.

The challenges of decentralization

The unbridled freedom that comes with decentralization can be a wonderful thing, but it can also create some challenges.

When we (the users) own all of our activity and data online — unlike the current model where big platforms like Twitter and Facebook do — there is a possibility that certain people will misuse this freedom and cause harm.

For example, without the rules and regulations of a centralized platform, it will be easier for people to spread hateful views and misinformation without fear of being banned.

So how do you control and counter potentially harmful activity in a truly decentralized web?

The solutions

Many of the challenges of decentralization will be solved by decentralization itself. For example, the inherent transparency of a blockchain-based system makes it easier to verify false information and confirm that a person is really who they claim to be — by linking back to existing social media accounts and other verified online profiles.

Users will also have the ability to filter and simply block information they don’t want to see. There will be more responsibility on users to do their due diligence, but this is also a good thing.

Building a decentralized web won’t be an overnight project. It’s going to take years for the technology to be widely adopted, and there will be many roadblocks to overcome along the way.

But the most important thing for us to do now is to keep talking about these challenges, encourage new ideas and solutions, and focus on educating people as much as possible. Long term, the advantages will far outweigh the drawbacks.

For more discussions around decentralization, cryptocurrency, blockchain, and more, check out The Unstoppable Podcast.